For Mysteries & More!

Friday Cocktail


Is it tiki time or time for Halloween?  With the latest featured Friday Cocktail, it could be both!  Try the Zombie!

By all accounts, this drink was invented in the 1930s by Donn “the Beachcomber” Beach in California.  It’s popularity grew with its appearance at the 1939 World’s Fair, and later with the tiki craze that occurred during the 1950s and 1960s and popularized in 1960s beach/surf movies.  Presumably the original recipe was kept secret, which might explain why there are so many variations of the recipe online and in bartending guides.

Most recipes agree on the rum and related proportions.  Where the recipes tend to vary is with the decision as to which fruit juices (and how much) to include.  Regardless of what ultimately ends up in a Zombie, the high alcohol content resulted in a two drink limit in its early days.  Of course, this may have been more of a ploy to add to the drink’s mystique and promotion, but you really don’t want to have too many of these.

What you’ll need:  Rum (lots of it):  White Rum, Golden Rum, Dark Rum, 151-proof Rum, Apricot Brandy, Pineapple Juice, Papaya Juice, Lime Juice, and Grenadine.

Pour 1/2 white rum, 1 1/2 golden rum, 1/2 ounce dark rum, and 1/2 ounce brandy (optional) in a shaker over cracked ice.  Pour in 1 1/2 ounce each of pineapple and papaya juice.  Add in a dash of lime juice and grenadine.  Shake and then strain into a hurricane glass over ice.  Float 1/2 ounce of 151-proof rum on top.  The trick is to use the back of a spoon to gently pour in the 151-proof rum against the side of the glass.  Serve up with garnishes of your choice, typically a slice of pineapple and maraschino cherries.  Bonus if you use one of those little umbrellas.

The brandy most often associated with this drink is apricot brandy, but other flavors can be used.  I’ve seen recipes calling for cherry brandy or ones that completely omit the brandy.

How I like it:  This is a tricky one.  I haven’t had too many Zombies, and judging from the abundance of recipes available online, I’ve probably never had the same version of the drink twice!  Rum is not my favorite, but masked by luscious fruit juice, it’s not so bad.  So I prefer a tad more juice in mine.  In this case, I used a pineapple mango blend.  Papaya isn’t that easy to find in the Northeastern U.S.  I also left out the 151-proof.  Believe me the drink is strong enough without it!  Of course, if you do use 151-proof rum, some recipes suggest it can be lit for an extra colorful effect.  Finally, I used cherry brandy instead of apricot, but apricot brandy is best.

Stick with the two limit rule, and as always, drink responsibly!

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